SBJ/April 16-22, 2012/Facilities

CSL among firms joining A&M stadium study

Texas A&M University’s private foundation has hired firms connected to Cowboys Stadium and Livestrong Sporting Park to help study renovating Kyle Field versus building a new stadium.

Sports facility research firm CSL International and tech startup Sporting Innovations are part of a team of consultants that the school’s 12th Man Foundation hired to redevelop the 83,000-seat stadium. Sports architect Populous is leading the effort.

Other consultants on Populous’ team are GMR Marketing, The Innovations Group, Venue Solutions Group and engineers Walter P Moore and ME Engineers.

Bill Rhoda, the Dallas-based principal with CSL, was on the ground floor for developing the profitable business model for Cowboys Stadium. Sporting Innovations is a spinoff of Sporting Kansas City, the MLS club that opened a new stadium in 2011, a building heavy on wireless technology.

The Texas A&M project is a “broad-based market study, probably the most comprehensive we have ever done in college sports,” said Earl Santee, senior principal for Populous overseeing the project.

Three to four years ago, CSL completed an independent study for Texas A&M revolving around suites and club seats, Rhoda said. This time, CSL and its fellow consultants will survey season-ticket holders and university partners to examine all potential revenue streams tied to financing the project: ticketing, premium seating, personal seat licenses, donations, naming rights, sponsorships, food and beverage, merchandise, parking and third-party events.

Those results will be folded into Populous’ design plan for expansion and upgrades to arrive at a cost estimate for the renovation and the return on investment.

With Texas A&M moving to the Southeastern Conference this fall, the Populous-led team also will study whether it makes better sense to build a new football stadium. For the first time in the school’s 136-year history, the school has sold out football season tickets at 33,000, said Kevin Hurley, associate athletic director of facilities. Home games include SEC opponents Arkansas, Florida and LSU.

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